Mercedes-AMG Project One to deliver on the dream of an F1 car for the road
Rumblings about the Mercedes-AMG Project One have been around for a while now, but details about this mysterious racer for the road have been hard to come by. We know just 275 will be built, and we know they're all accounted for, but details about the powertrain have been hard to come by... until now. The Quail, part of the annual Monterey Car Week, was used to show the world what lies beneath the Project One's skin – it's time to prepare for a road-going Formula 1 car.
The idea of a racecar for the road has been explored before, but the dream of hopping into a family sedan with the same engine you see screaming around on the track is yet to be realizsed. Ferrari slotted an F1 V12 into the F50 and the Porsche Carrera GT was powered by, essentially, a detuned LMP1 prototype engine. Caparo promised plenty with the T1, but people weren't overly enamoured with its penchant for catching fire.
Mercedes-AMG is promising the Project One will finally deliver on the dream, thanks to the hybrid powertrain from the championship-winning 2015 W06 F1 car. It reduced the season to a two-horse race, as Nico Rosberg and Lewis Hamilton went back-and-forth in search of the Drivers title and Mercedes streaked away from Ferrari and Red Bull in the Constructor Championship. Given its formidable form on the track, a powertrain with that pedigree should have no trouble burning things up in the traffic light grand prix.
Power will come from a V6 displacing just 1600cc, boosted by an electrically-assisted turbo attached to the cylinder bank. It's expected to have a redline somewhere north of 11,000 RPM like the F1 car, but some things will need to change – having a road car idle at 4,000 RPM just isn't practical for anyone, for example.
Like the Formula 1 car, the Project One will be boosted by a hybrid system, but it will be adapted to cover short distances on pure electric power. You'll even be able to plug it into the wall, just like an E-Class. Of course, you don't need to completely rebuild the engine in an E-Class every 50,000 km (31,068 mi). The fact an F1 engine will last that long is impressive, but it's also terrifying that anyone would be comfortable knowing their powertrain has such a short shelf life.
The engine isn't hooked up to a dual-clutch gearbox because AMG hasn't been able to find one capable of spinning to 11,000 RPM without disintegrating into a million tiny pieces. We know it'll be an eight-speed unit, and we know it'll transmit grunt to all four wheels, but the details exactly how will have to wait until September 14, when the car is fully unwrapped at the Frankfurt Motor Show.
We're expecting a power output around 1,000 hp (746 kW), which would put the car in a similar realm to the Aston Martin Valkyrie detailed earlier this year. Although the LaFerrari and McLaren P1 come close to matching that figure, their more conventional bodywork and connection to regular road-going cars means they're fighting in a totally different weight division. Then again, we wouldn't object to driving all four back-to-back and trying to confirm that. Preferably at a track – maybe the Nurburgring? Anyway, give us a call if you want to make that happen Mercedes, Ferrari, McLaren and Aston Martin.
Given the incredible spec sheet and limited build run, there's likely to be a long list of people who wanted one but couldn't be accommodated. First world problems, we know. Values on cars like this tend to rise at an astronomical rate, so we'd be very surprised if Mercedes doesn't include a clause to prevent owners from selling them at a huge markup after delivery – a practice known as flipping.
Pricing for the Project One hasn't been announced, but reports suggest it will be somewhere between US$2 and $3 million, and they're all sold.